Kim Jong Un Delivers First Public Speech

Posted April 14th, 2012 at 10:35 pm (UTC-5)
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North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong Un delivered his first-ever televised speech Sunday during a major military parade to make the 100th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather.

Wearing a black Mao suit, Mr. Kim told huge cheering crowds in the capital, Pyongyang, that he offered his “purest respect and the greatest honor to great comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il,” referring to his late grandfather and father.

The 28-year-old leader also expressed his greeting to, who he called, compatriots in South Korea and across the world who dedicate themselves to reunification and the prosperity of the nations.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people gathered in Pyongyang's huge football stadium in a show of support for North Korea's ruling dynasty.

The audience, including members of North Korea's 1.2 million strong military, women in colorful gowns and men in dark suits, sat in the packed Kim Il Sung stadium to hear praise for the family that has ruled the nation since its founding in 1948.

Ahead of the main event Sunday, Kim Jong Un ordered promotions for about 70 senior military officers. Mr. Kim himself was elected first chairman of the National Defense Commission Friday, which makes him North Korea's supreme leader. Lawmakers also approved setting aside close to 16 percent of the budget for defense, indicating that the army will continue to play a strong role in North Korea under its new young leader. Kim Jong Un took over in December, after his father Kim Jong Il died.

North Korean leaders planned to launch what they called an observation satellite into orbit Saturday to coincide with Kim Il Sung anniversary celebrations. But the launch, largely considered to be a covert ballistic missile test and condemned by the international community, failed.

Some political analysts say the embarrassment will spur the isolated country to compensate for the failure by carrying out another nuclear test. Pyongyang has earned tough international sanctions after its first nuclear test in 2006 and another one three years later.

Kim Il Sung's birthday, April 15, 1912, is considered North Korea's most important holiday.